Two very timely articles (given the situation with the proposed Alex park renovation) on the relationship between nature and wellbeing, have recently appeared in the press.
The BBC article reports from the British Ecological Society’s annual meeting, where it was argued that empirical research evidencing the link between nature and wellbeing strengthens the case for conservation.
The Independent article discusses the distress that many people of a certain age (baby boomers) feel that they may not be able to name, but that the author ascribes to loss of nature in their neighbourhoods and daily lives.
This theory, that we are psychologically bonded with nature and that ecological destruction affects us on a deep emotional level is the foundational premise of ecopsychology, a field within ecopsychology and psychotherapy that emerged in the 1990s.
In addition to the growing body of peer reviewed academic papers on the subject, this year The National Trust produced a report Natural Childhood by the naturalist Stephen Moss, and MIND published their Ecotherapy report: the green agenda for mental health in 2007. Both are landmark events in the journey to make the importance of nature to human wellbeing a mainstream issue.
I would like to see health professionals in Manchester prescribe nature-based therapy as a matter of course, with the same enthusiasm as they currently prescribe anti-depressants.
Alex park would be a great location for such an ecotherapy scheme, as well as for forest school outdoor education programmes with local schools.
The WR4 wildlife events in the park prove how popular these activities are with children and adults, hopefully we can continue to programme more events there in future.